The Deaconess Community of the ELCA
The deaconesses of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) are characterized by the sisters’ commitment and call to support and motivate one another, especially through prayer, assemblies, shared learning, and advocacy. As a separately incorporated ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), they serve, across the continent, as deacons in the ELCA and as diaconal ministers in the ELCIC.
The community has worked to foster intentional community, leadership development, and strategic partnerships within the church and the world. This community of 81 womxn seeks social change that restores, reforms and transforms. They have used their financial and human resources to support, and stand along side, partners in justice and advocacy work. Drawing on the community’s core values, mission grants have been provided, and partnerships developed, that take risks, provide innovative services, and build bridges for the healing of the world. In 2019, 16 grants were provided. In the last three years, our community has shared over $350,000 in grants; since 2004, over $2 million has been provided for national and international grants.
As a Reconciling in Christ community, they have examined their use of language and welcoming presence. With DIAKONIA World Federation, the community has engaged in the global movement Thursdays in Black, toward a world without rape and violence.
The community has embraced the 2017 roster changes in the ELCA and continues to provide diaconal formation for the greater church. Currently, 20 candidates are engaged in a new formation process. Since 2006, the community has sponsored a January elective course on diaconal ministry, history and spirituality offered through Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to which all are welcome.
A new strategic plan to work for justice and the flourishing of all God’s creation has been adopted by the community. Emboldened by the community’s rich history, the strategic plan focuses on the group’s diaconal mission as an intentional community rooted in a living Word and love of God. It will further cultivate opportunities to develop leaders, both nationally and internationally, and will draw on dynamic partnerships within the church and world.